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It is important to remember that the goal of business modeling is usually to find a general view of the business, and not a detailed specification of its processes. Thus, in most cases, the team’s goal is to concentrate on discovering information about the business, and not on formally specifying how the business works as if it was a machine.

A question still may be asked: Which business elements deserve the production of a state machine or activity diagram? Unless stated to the contrary, it is not advisable to prepare a diagram for every business element, because, if this is done, Inception would take too long to complete, and its objectives would be hindered. What is usually needed at that point is a model for some key elements, so that their behavior can be better understood and their requirements derived later.

A clue to identify those key elements is to ask what the business objects are. In the case of a bookstore, they are books, in the case of a hotel, lodging, in the case of a court, criminal processes, and so on. Thus, those are the key elements that must be modeled in greater detail to help in understanding the business.

A second question could be the following: Which diagram should we use — activity or state machine? The answer depends on the nature of the element to be modeled. A state does not correspond necessarily to an activity. A TV, for instance, may be in state off, when it is doing nothing. An activity diagram is useful when modeling people, organizations, or systems doing things. On the other hand, the state machine diagram is useful when a single entity passes through different states in which it is not necessarily doing something. Furthermore, the activity diagram usually details a business use case (that is, a process like selling, buying, checking, etc.), while the state machine diagram is usually associated with a business object (like books, people, orders, etc.).

Business modeling is not just about building diagrams, however. The purpose of diagrams is to help understand the context and the initial general requirements of a project and a system. Business modeling is one of the key activities that help a team to identify and prepare for project risks. Other risk mitigation activities may also be performed during Inception, such as proof-of-concept, workshops, prototyping, early tests, etc. Any strategy that helps in understanding the big picture and identifying the major risks and complexities of a project are valid.

The process so far



Business Modeling

Requirements Analysis and Design Implementation Test

Project Management

Build a general view of the system:

  • • Build a business use case diagram and determine the automation scope for the project.
  • • Build preliminary activity diagrams for business use cases.
  • • Build preliminary state machine diagrams for key business objects.


  • 1. What is the purpose of business modeling?
  • 2. Business modeling can occur with different levels of intensity for different kinds of projects. Explain and give examples!
  • 3. What is the difference between a business worker and a business actor?
  • 4. Which aspects of a business may be detailed by an activity diagram? Which may be detailed by a state machine diagram?
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